MILWAUKEE — Jim Henderson felt he threw a handful of good sliders during Tuesday’s ninth inning, but the one slider that hung ended up costing him and the Milwaukee Brewers the game.
Pirates pinch hitter Travis Snider crushed a 2-2 offering from Henderson into the seats in left center field for the decisive run in Pittsburgh’s historic 4-3 victory at Miller Park.
With their 81st win of the season, the Pirates will not have a losing season for the first time since 1992. Not only will Pittsburgh go for the sweep Wednesday night, but it will try to clinch its first winning season in 21 years.
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“The game will mess with you,” Henderson said. “I threw a few good sliders that outing and the one bad one I threw gets knocked out of the park. It just sucks. It sucks when the team comes back and battles hard and scores to tie it up again in the eighth, and I’ve let them down the last few times I’ve been out.
“Those are the things I take hard, seeing everybody else battle and I come in for a half an inning and give up the lead. That’s the hard part to deal with.”
After Brandon Kintzler allowed an RBI double to Marlon Byrd to put Pittsburgh up 3-2 in the eighth inning, the Brewers fought back and tied the game in the bottom half of the frame on a Jean Segura RBI single.
Snider fouled off a couple of fastballs from Henderson before getting the hanging slider and depositing it for his fourth home run of the season and his first since June 15.
When the Brewers stranded the tying run at second base in the bottom of the ninth, Henderson was hit with the loss for the second consecutive outing. Saturday against the Angels, Milwaukee’s closer got the first two outs of the inning before allowing a double and a go-ahead, two-run home run.
“That one tonight was definitely a mistake,” Henderson said. “All I need to do is just get that slider down, and I threw a good one to Pie and a good one to McCutchen at the end there. If I throw that same one he’s going to swing over the top of it. The one the other night was the best fastball I can give him. He was cheating and he even said he swung as hard as he could and closed his eyes.
“Tonight was definitely a mistake. I can’t let it happen anymore. I have to lock it down now for the rest of the year. I mean, you try to every night out.”
As reliable as can be for most of the season, Kintzler and Henderson have slipped up a bit recently. While Henderson has had an innings load like this in the past, he hasn’t pitched in this many stressful innings in the past.
Henderson says he feels strong, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke doesn’t see reasons to be overly concerned about the heavy workload taking a toll.
“I have concerns about anybody at the end of the season if your workload is high,” Roenicke said. “We’ll look at it. But we know when we get to a point where we need to win a game, those are the two guys that we want to go too — and they’ve been really good.
“Stuff-wise, I don’t see that much difference. I think their stuff is still really good. Henderson today, he hung a slider. He gets the ball down, he’s fine. If he throws the fastball where he wants to, he’s fine. But he hung a slider.”
With Tuesday’s game behind him, Henderson is just looking forward to getting back on track whenever he’s handed the ball again.
“That’s always what you want to do as a reliever is get back out there,” Henderson said. “You want to see consistency out of the guys in the backend of your bullpen and unfortunately there are times I haven’t shown that. You want to get back there as quickly as possible and that was a couple bad outings from the manager and team’s mind.
“My arm feels good, my body feels good, I just need to get locked in a little more mentally.”
Rotation set: After delaying announcing his probable starting pitchers for the Chicago series until he informed all involved parties, Roenicke made public the three who will take the mound over the weekend at Wrigley Field.
Right-hander Kyle Lohse will start Friday’s series opener, while rookie right-hander Johnny Hellweg will slide in and pitch Saturday. After pitching Tuesday, Yovani Gallardo will stay on normal rest and pitch Sunday’s series finale.
That means right-hander Marco Estrada will be the guy bumped by Hellweg’s insertion and the two days off on Thursday and Monday. Following Monday’s off day, the Brewers will go to a six-man rotation as they play 20 games in 20 days to end the season.
Gorzelanny down: Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny was unavailable Tuesday after leaving Monday’s game with left shoulder tightness.
Gorzleanny will see team physician William Raasch on Wednesday to findthe reason for the tightness.
“He was throwing (Monday) and really couldn’t get it loose,” Roenicke said. “Thought it would be OK because that was his fifth day after his last start, but he was stiff.
“The last start he felt a little, I don’t know if it was fatigued or just not quite right. I don’t know if it is from that. I don’t know.”